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CHAPTER 44: Mr Ralph Nickleby cuts an old Acquaintance... (continued)
But the present business of these adventures is with Ralph himself, who stood regarding Newman Noggs with a heavy frown, while that worthy took off his fingerless gloves, and spreading them carefully on the palm of his left hand, and flattening them with his right to take the creases out, proceeded to roll them up with an absent air as if he were utterly regardless of all things else, in the deep interest of the ceremonial.
'Gone out of town!' said Ralph, slowly. 'A mistake of yours. Go back again.'
'No mistake,' returned Newman. 'Not even going; gone.'
'Has he turned girl or baby?' muttered Ralph, with a fretful gesture.
'I don't know,' said Newman, 'but he's gone.'
The repetition of the word 'gone' seemed to afford Newman Noggs inexpressible delight, in proportion as it annoyed Ralph Nickleby. He uttered the word with a full round emphasis, dwelling upon it as long as he decently could, and when he could hold out no longer without attracting observation, stood gasping it to himself as if even that were a satisfaction.
'And WHERE has he gone?' said Ralph.
'France,' replied Newman. 'Danger of another attack of erysipelas --a worse attack--in the head. So the doctors ordered him off. And he's gone.'
'And Lord Frederick--?' began Ralph.
'He's gone too,' replied Newman.
'And he carries his drubbing with him, does he?' said Ralph, turning away; 'pockets his bruises, and sneaks off without the retaliation of a word, or seeking the smallest reparation!'
'He's too ill,' said Newman.
'Too ill!' repeated Ralph. 'Why I would have it if I were dying; in that case I should only be the more determined to have it, and that without delay--I mean if I were he. But he's too ill! Poor Sir Mulberry! Too ill!'
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